Microforge Miniatures provided us with advanced copies of their preview files, however the contents of this review represent our unbiased opinions. When putting this review together we approached Microforge Miniatures, not the other way around, after backing their Kickstarter.
3D printing, both FDM and resin, can be a great way to produce terrain for your wargaming tables but it’s not without it’s downsides. Large FDM prints can often require hours of post processing for the best results and the larger prints and projects can take days. Resin printing tends to have very limited volumes, unless you’re lucky enough to having access to something like a Saturn and it’s not without it’s own challenges. Using Expanded Polystyrene (XPS) foam to create terrain has long been a staple of the hobby, and there are some truly incredibly creators out there. It allows you to quickly create large structures, adding texture and detail as you create your project much like a real building. One of the challenges, however, is adding those finer details to door ways, windows and arches. It often requires switching to a much denser foam and carving or cutting individual bricks to then hand build the pieces in miniature. This is where Slice & Slot looks to fill a niche, providing jigs and 3D printing files to allow you to quickly add lines for bricks and arches and door ways for detailing.
I reached out to Albert, the creator behind Microforge Miniatures, and he was kind enough to send us some advanced copies of his doors and arches for the purposes of this review. He supplied both pre-supported and unsupported files and this gave me a chance to play around and actually learn a little bit more about supporting files myself. It’s always interesting to see how creators support their files, what works and what doesn’t.
Before I get in to the files themselves, I’d like to give a quick overview of my own set up for this review. All of the files were printed using an Elegoo Mars 3 with LiquidResin Black (similar to Elegoo ABS-like but slightly stiffer), I use the Elegoo plans for a pre-heated chamber and tend to run this for around 30 minutes before printing. My layer height for this review was 50um with a 3.2s exposure time. All of the prints are then cleaned using a two stage process followed by curing for five minutes.
I wanted to start by comparing not only the pre-supported files but also whether I could print them flat to the bed. I’ve bad some limited success with this and it can make the job of supporting files easier, with the trade off of slightly trickier removal and the chance of damaging the print during post-processing.
As you can see from the above image, I tried two flat to the bed and two of the pre-supported files. Due to issues with one of the early files I was unable to print it for the purposes of this article however a corrected file was later published. I run fairly dense auto-supports comparing them to those provided for review, I can probably back mine off a little for the future. The detailed island scan in Lychee showed a similar number of unsupported islands on both my prints and the pre-supported ones. This can be cause for concern but reviewing them I figured I’d see how it went.
All of the files printed successfully, with a nice amount of detail. Support removal on the pre-supported files was straight forward. For some models I’ll use hot water to soften the supports off but I figured with this being textured stone I wasn’t going to worry too much about pock marks and I pulled them free, using clippers for the heavy supports. During the removal of supports on my attempts, I did end up causing an unfortunate amount of damage in a couple of places, snapping off a small corner. This does happen occasionally when printing flat to the bed, even more so when you have support discs intersecting the print.
Overall the prints came out great, and were perfect for moving on to the next step. The previews didn’t include the 3D printable jigs which are offered as part of this Kickstarter, and I’m still a relative novice so the end results definitely aren’t as clean as you’d hope with access to the full product but I was pretty happy with the results.
Using a pencil and steel ruler to score the horizontal lines, I then went back to add the vertical pattern using the same pencil. After this I used a ball of tin foil to add some extra character. With everything basecoated and dry brushed, I figured this was a great chance to try out some Dirty Down Moss and I was super happy with the extra character it added to the overall piece.
I’m really excited to get my hands on the rest of this Kickstarter, it looks like a fantastic way to build out my collection of terrain without entirely relying on FDM printing. I personally picked the Digital Crafter level both due to my access to and FDM printer but also because I was a little concerned about shipping from Australia. This is definitely something to keep in mind, as with any Kickstarter which has a physical component, and from what I understand they’ll be looking to release shipping estimates soon.
Microforge Miniatures Slice & Slot offers a number of backer levels and caters for as many people as possible. The full Kickstarter will include either MDF or STL files for jigs to cut your arches and door ways, along with jigs for adding brick work lines. They also offer tiers for those without access to a 3D printer which includes physical prints and the jigs. There’s really something for everyone here so if you’ve ever thought about getting in to foam crafted terrain this provides a fantastic entry point. The campaign closes on Tuesday 14th February so if you’d like to back it, head on over to the Kickstarter page to make your pledge.